11-year-old athlete gets 'fat letter' from school officials



NAPLES, Fla. - A mother is fighting back after she said her 11-year-old daughter came home from school with a so-called "fat letter," labeling the girl overweight.

ABC News' Bianna Golodryga spoke with the mother and daughter.

Her mother said Lilly Grasso is on the school volleyball team and eats healthy foods.

Lilly said she was stunned when Florida health officials sent a letter suggesting that she was fat.

"This whole thing is stupid. It's just not useful. It can hurt people. It can break their courage," said Lilly Grasso.

"First, I was hurt, and then I was angry, and then I just was concerned," said her mother, Kristen Grasso.

The so-called fat letter is the result of a body mass index screening or (BMI) screening administered by officials at Lilly's school.

"To give a kid a letter telling them the rest of their life they may be overweight or be obese because of a measurement you took one day, it's just not fair," said Kristen Grasso.

ABC News found out that in a bid to combat childhood obesity, similar screening programs have been embraced by schools in 19 states.

Dr. Stephen Pont, who is chairman of the obesity section of American Academy of Pediatrics, said, "They're a great idea. I very much hope all parents can become aware."

However, eating disorder experts, such as Claire Mysko, worry the screenings do more harm than good.

"I would like to see BMI testing in schools banned," Mysko said. "For those who are already insecure about their weight, these tests can potentially trigger an eating disorder."

A panel of girls ABC recently spoke with said they dread the screenings.

Golodryga asked, "I know all of your schools have a BMI reading now. How do you feel about them?"

"I hate them," replied student Zuzu Park-Stettner.

"It really doesn't do much for people except for make them more insecure about themselves," said student Carmen Kunkel.

In a statement to ABC News about Lilly's report, Florida officials said the screenings "provide valuable information to parents and help ensure that students are healthy and ready to learn."

As for Lilly, she said she hasn't let the letter affect her and has learned an important lesson: "Be confident in everything that I do, and never give up."